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Project of Professor Noboru Minakawa of the Institute of Tropical Medicine is Adopted by Science and Technology Research Partnership for Sustainable Development (SATREPS)

May 17, 2013

The project of the research team of Professor Noboru Minakawa of Nagasaki University’s Institute of Tropical Medicine has been adopted by the Japan Science and Technology Agency’s Strategic International Collaborative Research Program, Science and Technology Research Partnership for Sustainable Development (SATREPS).

[Scope of SATREPS]
Scope of SATREPS is to promote international collaborative research on global issues intended for future social implementation, in cooperation with official development assistance (ODA), to acquire new knowledge to solve global issues and improve science and technology levels, based on the needs of developing countries.

[Name of Project]
“Establishment of a climate based early-warning system for infectious diseases in southern Africa ”

[Purpose]
The purpose of this project is to develop an infectious disease epidemic prediction model based on a climate predictions, and establish a sustainable early warning system for disease epidemics which can serve in Southern Africa. The target infectious diseases are three largest causes of infant deaths in the region, malaria, diarrhea typified by cholera, and pneumonia, but it is also aimed that the system will be useful for other diseases and neighboring countries in future.

[Overview of the Project]
Infectious diseases are a major threat to humanity, as well as a global problem that transcends national borders. This problem is especially serious in Africa, with about 3.7 million, half of the world’s total 7.6 million under-five mortality concentrated in sub-Saharan Africa, and more than half of those are caused by pneumonia, malaria and diarrheal diseases. Moreover, the threat from the problem of infectious diseases in developing countries is increasing due to recent extreme climate variation. For example, malaria and cholera epidemics are occurring frequently in Africa due to flooding associated with the Indian Ocean Dipole Mode. However, if heavy rain can be predicted in advance, actions can be taken in preparation for infectious disease epidemics, such as storing drugs. This is a project to predict the climate in Southern Africa based on a world class climate prediction model which was developed in Japan, and by incorporating the predicted climate, to develop a model for predicting infectious disease epidemics. In addition, an infectious disease early warning system is to be built to deliver the epidemic predictions to medical institutions in the area.

[Expected Results]
The infectious disease early warning system is expected to greatly improve control measures for infectious disease epidemics not only in South Africa, but in the Southern Africa region including neighboring countries. It will also be possible to identify the optimal timing for effective interventions such as drug distribution and insecticide spray. In the future, it will be linked to the activities of Nagasaki University’s education and research station in Kenya to provide a foundation for building an early warning system for the Eastern Africa region, which also suffers frequent damage from climate variation, and the application and development can be expected for other diseases and regions in Asia, including Japan.

[Research Period]
Five years, 2013 to 2017

[Participating Research Institutes]
Japan: Nagasaki University Institute of Tropical Medicine, Japan Agency for Marin-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC)

Republic of South Africa: Applied Center for Climate and Earth Systems Science (ACCESS), South African Medical Research Council (MRC), Malaria Control Center, and others